Saudi Vellakka too has its heroes, but they are ordinary people. It’s in these poignant moments that the film moves you and makes you reflect on humanity
Story: The constant spat between two neighbours takes an ugly turn when one of them, an elder woman named Aisha, in a moment of anger hits a child. Egged on by the other neighbour, the issue blows out of proportion when the child’s parents file a legal case and more parties become involved. The case also has far-reaching ramifications for Aisha and her family, especially as the legal system drags it on for over a decade.
Review: In one of the scenes, where the movie’s protagonist, an elder woman named Aisha Rawther (Devi Varma), walks out disappointed after hearing that her lawyer had passed away, in the background, you hear the lawyer’s wife saying to another person that the lady who just left was an emotionless person. In fact, Aisha’s dour countenance is addressed again and made all the more prominent because of a sparkling debut by Devi Varma. It’s also this character who moves you the most in Tharun Moorthy’s impactful and relevant sophomore social drama. If it’s cyber police cases and unemployment that he tackled in Operation Java, it’s the legal system, to be precise the delay in delivering verdicts and its impact on the people, that he goes after in Saudi Vellakka.
Much like Operation Java, Saudi Vellakka tries to connect with the viewer with basic human emotions. The filmmaker, who has also written the movie, spends the first half of the film establishing the world these characters live in; in fact, after a point, it becomes hard to keep track of who many people are there and what their importance is. The frames are cluttered and yet so real. But as the film progresses, in a deliberately subdued manner, the number of people diminish with time. The once constant is the delay from the legal system’s side and an unwavering effort from Aisha to turn up everything the hearing has been scheduled, for over 13 years.
Saudi Vellakka too has its heroes, but they are ordinary people in the form of autorickshaw drivers, lawyers, a youngster who would rather lose the case than see what an elder woman has to endure. It’s in these poignant moments that the film moves you and makes you reflect on humanity, a theme that reverberates through its characters and in the final few scenes through a Mahatma Gandhi quote tucked in a corner of a court.
Devi Varma is the soul of the film and makes a magnificent debut as Aisha, showing her strength even when is at her weakest and never letting this be seen by the world that is quick to judge. Sujith Sankar, who plays her son, puts on another powerful performance as a man torn between what to do in the moments of crisis. Binu Pappu’s character serves as the moral compass in the movie as well as a measure of time. Lukman Avaran gets some great scenes in the second half of the film that he totally savours. The movie also has some great performances from a string of debutants who play veteran characters. Dhanya Ananya, Remya Suresh, Gokulan and the actor who played police officer Ayyappa Das add to the film’s mood.
While many might feel the pacing of the film, especially the first half, is on the slower side, but the payoff is rewarding and Nishadh Yusuf deserves a pat on the back to keeping it deliberately stolid, much like its character Aisha. Palee Francis’ music ushers in the emotions during the poignant moments that make this social drama a good watch.
Verdict: Aided by strong performances, especially from its lead actors Devi Varma, Binu Pappu, Sujith Sankar and Lukman Avaan, and a screenplay that doesn’t compromise on its characters’ development, Tharun Moorthy has crafted another social drama that is high on impact and emotions.